Monday, April 20, 2009

What is Twitter and Why Should I Care?

In case you missed it, I previously wrote a Twitter Executive Summary.

Twitter is just Chat Room 2.0. Anyone can create a member profile and can start posting. All entries are a maximum of 140 characters so whatever you have to say, keep it short. There are millions of Twitter users that you can follow. When you Follow someone on Twitter you start to receive their posts. If they Follow you in return, they will see your posts. Some people post about their activities (waiting at dentist, late for work, making coffee, etc.) while others send out marketing messages (Eat at Joe's, Buy My Book, Please Donate, etc.).

Supposedly, Twitter's 140 characters makes it easier for you to spread your marketing message. Because you are limited it is easier to write your posts. I say that is nonsense. Because you have less space to write, you must write better! There is no chance to build an argument or state a case. You cannot rely on establishing a common frame of reference nor any of the other literary tools normally available. Twitter forces you to be concise. You must state your marketing message and move on. I find only 140 characters is far more challenging.

As originally intended however, Twitter can be very powerful. If you use it to remain in constant contact with your customers, it is very useful. I'm not sure how useful it will be at attracting new customers though. Beware The Rules of Social Media!

There is one significant reality check though: even though Twitter is wildly popular and seems to have more and more new members, they haven't figured out a way to make any money with it. They are rapidly burning through venture capital money with no real path to profitability. That means it is very likely that Twitter will not survive into the future. The current plans call for some kind of advertising system to generate revenue but with Ad Blindness becoming a very real factor, I don't know if that will work for them.

However, I just don't see it lasting. I realize there are millions of Twitter fanatics that will burn me in effigy for that statement, but tough. If they cannot find a way to monetize Twitter, (and soon) the bandwidth costs alone will ruin them. Twitter claims they have "...many appealing opportunities for generating revenue but we are holding off on implementation for now..." Personally, that sounds pretty lame. Whatever their ideas, it was enough for them to secure millions in venture capital. Hopefully they can start making money before they run out.

All in all, I think Twitter is a waste of time. I realize there are millions out there who completely disagree. They will speak passionately about communication and bringing people closer. They will argue that the sheer number of users is proof of it's value and success. Honestly, I don't really care to hear about everyone's mundane life activities or their sales messages. There are so many other avenues for communication in the digital world, it just seems silly to add another one.